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ORNL’s Lab-on-a-crystal uses machine learning to correlate materials’ mechanical, optical and electrical responses to dynamic environments. Credit: Ilia Ivanov/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

An all-in-one experimental platform developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences accelerates research on promising materials for future technologies.

Scanning probe microscopes use an atom-sharp tip—only a few nanometers thick—to image materials on a nanometer length scale. The probe tip, invisible to the eye, is attached to a cantilever (pictured) that moves across material surfaces like the tone arm on a record player. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Liam Collins was drawn to study physics to understand “hidden things” and honed his expertise in microscopy so that he could bring them to light.

Researchers at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences demonstrated an insect-inspired, mechanical gyroscope to advance motion sensing capabilities in consumer-sized applications. Credit: Jill Hemman/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory took inspiration from flying insects to demonstrate a miniaturized gyroscope, a special sensor used in navigation technologies. 

Buildings—Reaching the boiling point

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated that metal foam enhances the evaporation process in thermal conversion systems and enables the development of compact HVAC&R units.

Desalination process

A new method developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory improves the energy efficiency of a desalination process known as solar-thermal evaporation. 

To develop complex materials with superior properties, Vera Bocharova uses diverse methods including broadband dielectric spectroscopy. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy; photographer Jason Richards

Vera Bocharova at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory investigates the structure and dynamics of soft materials—polymer nanocomposites, polymer electrolytes and biological macromolecules—to advance materials and technologies for energy, medicine and other applications.

2018-P07635 BL-6 user - Univ of Guelph-6004R_sm[2].jpg

A team of scientists, led by University of Guelph professor John Dutcher, are using neutrons at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to unlock the secrets of natural nanoparticles that could be used to improve medicines.


Physicists turned to the “doubly magic” tin isotope Sn-132, colliding it with a target at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to assess its properties as it lost a neutron to become Sn-131.


An Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team used a scanning transmission electron microscope to selectively position single atoms below a crystal’s surface for the first time.

Sergei Kalinin, director of the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, convenes experts in microscopy and computing to gain scientific insights that will inform design of advanced materials for energy and informati

Sergei Kalinin of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory knows that seeing something is not the same as understanding it. As director of ORNL’s Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials, he convenes experts in microscopy and computing to gain scientific insigh...